by J.T. Buchheit
Crime Prevention Officer Dan Robles is known for his efforts to keep the peace on campus. But there is a side to Robles many students may not know about: his longtime penchant for toy collecting.
“Toys are very collectible, and what it’s all about is people wanting to relive their childhood a little bit,” said Robles. “They’re not going to actually play with them, but they want to have something to remember their childhood from. Because a lot of those are good memories for people, and that’s one of the main places all this stuff comes from.”
Robles has accumulated toys of all shapes and sizes and participated in toy shows throughout the Kansas City area. Toy shows consist of people getting together and showing off the items they possess.
“The Chicago one, Los Angeles, New York [toy shows] are huge,” said Robles. “You go to those, and you have thousands of tables, and the guys behind them are selling anything. And people from all over the world go to those, believe it or not. But what it is, it’s where people buy, sell and trade what they’ve got.”
Robles’ toy craze began over 20 years ago. What began as an innocent trip down memory lane at a toy show quickly developed into an urge to build his own vintage toy collection.
“I just saw toys and I went to a couple toy shows and I just thought, ‘This is kind of cool,’ you know, some of this older stuff that I had when I was a kid,” Robles said. “And I started going to garage sales, flea markets, estate sales, and I saw more of this out there, and I thought, ‘I’d better start buying some this,’ and then I thought, ‘I’m going to do my first show.’ So I did my first toy show downtown in the American Royal Building.”
Robles especially enjoys collecting toys related to outer space. He owns multiple ray guns, including a Buck Rogers ray gun from the 1930s. However, his most prized possession is his 1960s Fighting Spaceman robot collection.
“It’s very hard to find stuff like this,” said Robles. “And usually you trade under the table if you’re trying to find stuff like this. … The most collectible toys, actually, are Disney toys and then robot space stuff. So you can find a robot anywhere from $100,000 for one robot toy, all the way down to something like this, which might be in the $500 range.”
After years of traveling to display his toys, however, Robles has decided to sell much of his lot in order to clean out his basement, giving other staff/faculty members at the college a chance to purchase and enjoy the items. He also finds it more difficult to get chances to show his toys to the public.
“What I’ve done is I’ve kind of phased out and am getting out of that stuff,” he said. “Kansas City doesn’t have toy shows anymore — you have to start traveling around to go to them, and I didn’t really want to get into packing all that up. And I’ve done it for 20 years.”
Although Robles is selling a large amount of his toys, he is keeping some of his favorite items, such as the robots. However, there is a wide array of toys he is selling exclusively to staff including metal military figures, a 1990s sealed Star Wars poster, handheld battery-operated games from the 1970s and numerous other items. Staff members are welcome to contact Robles for more information.